FRESNO -- Hours of sometimes graphic testimony were enough to convince a judge that Fresno resident Jovannee Reynolds should stand trial for killing her foster daughter.
Reynolds, 25, is accused of shaking 1-month-old Mikayla Tabin to death in September 2010.
"It wouldn't happen from a fall. It wouldn't happen from a hit. It would have to happen from severe forcible injury," said Philip Hyden, medical director at Children's Hospital Central California in Madera.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Gregory Fain on Thursday ordered Reynolds to return to court Sept. 12 for a pre-trial briefing. She faces 25 years to life in prison on charges of murder and assault. She is also charged with abusing a 3-year-old boy in her care.
She has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.
Reynolds' attorney Martin Teleisnik said Mikayla's fatal brain injury could be the result of freak trauma that occurred during her birth or even an assault by her foster brother. But he said the record is too scant to pinpoint a cause.
The only thing that was clear during the nearly five-hour hearing was the tragedy of Mikayla's brief life.
Her biological mother tested positive for methamphetamine use when Mikayla was born, according to court testimony. Her mother abandoned her at a local drug-care facility.
Five days after birth, social workers placed Mikayla with Reynolds and her husband, who had been licensed for foster care only a month earlier.